Christmas is a time for traditions, and if you are anything like us, some of the most anticipated occasions of the season are the excitement charged evenings that lead up to December the 25th, and the slow paced lazy days that follow. Most of us look to the classics for wines to drink with Christmas dinner itself, but what should we be serving before & after the main meal, to keep up the festive spirit, and impress our nearest and dearest, without any unnecessary stress.
Christmas party drinks
Starting anywhere from mid November, Christmas parties begin to occupy the calendar. But what to pour to keep your guests happy and your bank balance in the positive?
Parties mean celebration and celebration means bubbles.
English Sparkling - Not always a cheaper option, but English sparkling wine is now produced to such quality that it offers great value for money and has the added value of being a locally sourced product and a talking point for guests.
Cremant - Various Cremant’s are available from the Loire, Burgundy and the South of France, these are made in the classic Champagne style and offer the same balance of freshness and biscuit flavours found in some big name champagnes at a much friendlier price.
Lambrusco - Bear with us here! Lambrusco has had a lot of bad press, but made well in either dry (secco) or barely sweet (semi secco) styles, it offers generous red fruit, delicate floral notes and creamy finish.
Sherries for Santa
Whether you are leaving out a little something for the man himself come Christmas Eve or treating yourself to a glass with cheese, these fortified wines make the perfect festive indulgence.
Olorosso Sherry - These Sherries are left in contact with oxygen and develop nutty, spicy flavours. Perfect for sipping with cheese.
Pedro Ximenez or ‘PX’ (“pay-dro hym-men-nez”) - This sherry is aged in barrels for a number of years where the liquid evaporates to leave an intense, sweet flavour with dried fruits and spices – think liquid Christmas pudding.
LBV ( Late Bottled vintage) Port - This port is a ruby port from a single vintage, aged for a number of years in barrel before sale, it is full of prune and black fruit flavours, with a leathery nutty finish.
Banyuls - from the south of France, this is a semi-sweet fortified wine made with Grenache. Full of dried cherry and chocolate flavours, it makes a delicious match with chocolate desserts or cheese.
Winter warmers for freezing fingers
After the indulgences of a Christmas lunch many of us take to the hills (or the pavements) for a festive walk, and what better way to warm up after than with one of these winter warmers
Mulled wine - a winter time classic whose fragrant aromas generously spill out from bars and stalls around the city in the festive season.
To avoid the watery disappointment often found at the bottom of a polystyrene cup use whole spices, a decent red wine and plenty of fresh citrus zest, we enjoy adding a proportion of rose to lighten the blend and maybe use up some long stocked summer supplies.
Hot G&T - The Gin and Tonic has swept to its highest ever popularity in the last few years. This wintery revamp is a deliciously fresh and spicy alternative to mulled wine when the weather gets colder.
What you need:
- 50 ml Dry London Gin
- 25ml tonic syrup
- 10ml sugar syrup
- Mixed and topped up with boiling water and a generous slice of lemon.
Hot spiced cider - a tangier version of mulled wine with the sharpness of the apple giving the spices and sugar a lift. Non-alcoholic versions with spiced apple juice are a delicious warming alternative for those who want a break from the indulgences of Christmas
Perfect pairings for turkey left overs and cold cuts
In our families, the ham, pies and cheeses laid out on Boxing Day are greeted with more excitement then the ‘main event’ itself. What do you offer up to guests to drink with the smorgasbord of goodies on offer through the post-Christmas period?
Grenache/Garnacha - Grenache as called in France or Garnacha as it is referred to in Spain, gives plenty of red fruit flavours and juicy structure meaning it pairs wonderfully with salty ham, turkey and even cranberry sauce! Some great options include Cotes Du Rhone reds from the Rhone Valley in France, where Grenache is blended with Syrah.
Chenin Blanc - Look to South Africa and France for some of the best examples of this grape, it often has flavours of apple, pear and ripe quince with refreshing acidity that will please a crowd and works as well with cold cuts of meat as it does with the accompanying sides.
Cava - Cava offers great value, with a crisp acidity and biscuit flavours that will take you from start to finish and act as a refreshing accompaniment to all on offer throughout the season.
What are your festive favourites for drinking over the holiday season? Which wines or will be lifting your spirits at this time of year? Let us know in the comments below: